We’re going to do both weekend games in one, partially because I feel like it, partially because we’re back in the land of tech issues.
It’s an ECAC road trip this weekend as UVM rematches two teams they played last season. We’ll start first with the Bobcats, who UVM crushed 5-1 in Belfast last year and plays on Saturday afternoon.
It’s safe to say that after the Belfast fail Quinnipiac’s season basically fell apart a year ago. They would go on to lose five of their next seven games and only ended the year ranked after a run to the ECAC semifinals, where they lost to Harvard; they wound up missing the NCAAs for the first time in five years. Both their games this year were at home against Beanpot schools, both went to OT, and neither ended in a Q win (a 1-1 tie against BC and a 3-2 loss to BU).
In goal, the Bobcats have split time their first weekend between sophomore Andrew Shortridge and Red Wings draftee and freshman Keith Petruzzelli. Petruzzelli comes in with some serious hype; at one point last year some rated him higher in the draft than Jake Oettinger. Shortridge meanwhile is the incumbent, posting a solid .920 last season (it was really the backup, graduated senior Chris Truehl, that let them down last year). I’d guess Shortridge starts, but I’m never good at predicting starting goalies, so Petruzzelli will probably start to make me look dumb.
The Bobcats defense looks to be a strong point, with a lot of talent and depth. The name that jumps out to me is Latvian U20 international Kārlis Čukste, who posted 15 points as a freshman and looked good for his nation at the World Juniors. Captain Chase Priskie (26 points), along with Brogan Rafferty (24) and Kevin McKernan (14) also bring offense, while they also added talented Brandon Fortunato (22 points with BU in 2015/16) via transfer, who brings plenty of big-game experience with him.
Forward is where Quinnipiac struggled last year, as their goals per game went from nearly 4 goals per game in 2015/16 to just over 3 last year after early departures and graduations. They do have a lot of key returners, with just 2 of their top 7 forward scorers graduating. They also have a strong newcomer in last year’s AJHL top scorer Matt Forchuk (97 points). They’re stronger there than last season, in my opinion, and it’ll be an early test for a young UVM defense.
Game is 4pm on Saturday and will be on ESPN3 for free!
While Q may have returned a ton of key players, the same cannot be said of the Union Dutchmen. After making the NCAAs last year and promptly getting steamrolled by Penn State, they lost a number of important pieces. And it’s shown in their 0-3-0 start, which included a 6-3 loss at the hands of a Michigan Tech Huskies side with a brand-new head coach.
In goal, last year’s starter was Alex Sakellaropoulos. Luckily for me as a writer I never have to spell that again, as he’s graduated. New starter Jake Kupsky, a junior and San Jose draftee, has shown some promise in his first three games as a #1, including a 39 save effort on opening night against BU. He’s backed up by junior Joe Young and freshman Darion Hanson.
On the blueline this team lost a huge player in Jeff Taylor (33 points) as well as solid contributor Nick DeSimone (19 points). They do have some returning talent (Vas Kolias had 12 points as a freshman, for example), but this team already struggled defensively last season and now they’ve lost their two best.
Up front, the obvious narrative is the graduation of Mike Vecchione and the early departure of Spencer Foo, both of whom posted over 60 points last season. That being said, there’s still plenty of talent here. Sebastian Vidmar had a huge sophomore year with 41 points, and Brett Supinksi added 35. They also added two talented draft picks in Jack Adams, who posted 60 points in the USHL with Fargo, and Foo’s brother Parker, who put up 66 points in the AJHL last year.
But if there’s one thing about Union, it’s that they’re excellently coached. Rick Bennett is a top 10 coach in the college game, especially with the Dutchmen not having as many resources (small rink + less scholarships).
Game is 4pm Sunday and viewing it is stuck behind a paywall.